Power Ranking the NFL's Top QB-WR Combinations

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Power Ranking the NFL's Top QB-WR Combinations
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

There are few tandems in sports that are as visually stimulating as a synchronized quarterback and wide receiver combination dicing up a secondary.

Whether it’s Troy Aikman to Michael Irvin, Joe Montana to Jerry Rice or Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison, watching a quarterback and his receiver gel together is a sensational sight. Unless, of course, you’re cheering or playing for the opposing team, wherein the combination of greatness is agonizing to view.

The current NFL landscape is crowded with talented QB-WR tandems. To succinctly rate the best aerial duos, a grading rubric must first be cemented to create a transparent means of evaluation. I chose to create four categories to grade, each on a scale from one to five.

The categories are:

Production: This is pretty self explanatory with the statistical output of the combo. Surrounding offensive contributors are considered here. For example, the statistical success of Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez affect the production score for Julio Jones.

Equal Lifting: Here, the tandems are evaluated by which of the two players shoulder the most responsibility. Do they both make another better or does one player's talent severely outweigh the other? For example, the combination of Larry Fitzgerald and John Skelton would have a score of one due to the imbalance of their talents, whereas Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald would have a score of five during their Super Bowl run.

Winning/ Contribution: How does the duo’s team fare and how instrumental are the two in the team’s overall success? 

Intangibles: Qualifying as intangibles can be any of the following: Chemistry—does the duo perform significantly better when playing together as opposed to playing with others; Attacking Dynamism—Can they hurt teams in various ways, such as short passing, deep balls, timing routes, elevation balls etc; Defensive Coverages—Does the combination force defenses to play differently, such as double teams, safety help and altered defensive game plans. 

The four categories are scored and then combined to create an overall score, from which the tandems are ranked.  

Tiebreakers are settled by playoff impact. For example, Tom Brady to Randy Moss would win a tiebreaker over Tony Romo to Terrell Owens.

Duo’s that played together in 2012 that won’t be together in 2013 did not qualify, such as Brady to Wes Welker and Colin Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree. Condolences to 49ers fans—Crabtree’s injury must feel like swallowing a rusty nail sideways.

Tight ends are also eligible, so don't freak out when you see Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski classified as receivers.  

Ready? Let's begin.


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